Lawmakers ask Pentagon chief for details on waivers allowing retired generals to consult for foreign governments

The Hill – by Jared Gans

Three House members on Tuesday sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to ask for additional details about how former generals receive waivers to consult on behalf of foreign governments. 

The letter from Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and Jason Crow (D-Colo.) comes after a Washington Post report in October that noted more than 500 retired military personnel received waivers to pursue jobs with foreign governments with known human rights abuses and histories of political oppression.

The lawmakers said they are concerned about a lack of transparency in the waiver approval process and reporting to Congress, the lack of standardized internal procedures at the Defense Department to implement the waiver approval process and the lack of enforcement when retired personnel violate the law through failing to report that they are advising for a foreign government.

They said they are also worried about potential conflicts of interest that were identified during the waiver approval process and the extent to which International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) concerns are discovered and resolved during the approval process.

ITAR is intended to control the export of defense and military technologies to protect national security.

The three House members said the public has a right to know the extent of influence that foreign powers might have over the country’s former military leaders and if high-ranking retired officers are taking advantage of their roles in government to create employment opportunities with foreign governments.

They requested that the State and Defense departments publicly release their annual report on waiver approvals for retired generals and an additional report summarizing and indexing waiver applications for the past 10 years.

DelBene, Cloud and Crow said they are also concerned that the State and Defense departments and the military services lack a standardized and rigorous process for reviewing the waivers and requested more clarity on the criteria used for the requests.

The lawmakers also asked a series of questions to Blinken and Austin, including what guidance the State Department provides to the Defense Department on the criteria for approving waivers and how potential conflicts of interest for applicants are handled as their waiver requests are approved or denied.

The Hill

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